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Friday, January 13, 2017

The Deceptions Of Luck, by David J. Hand, Nautilus

Luck is obviously closely related to the concept of chance, but it’s not quite the same. Chance describes an aspect of the physical universe: It’s what happens out there. The coin coming up heads rather than tails, the die falling to show a six, and even a particular one of the 45,057,474 possible tickets in the United Kingdom National Lottery being drawn. In contrast, luck attaches a value to the outcome of chance. Luck is chance viewed through the spectacles of good or bad fortune. It’s really good news, at least for you, if you win the lottery, and it’s really bad news if you’re one of the passengers on the plane when it crashes.

The Rise And Fall And Rise Of Logic – Catarina Dutilh Novaes, by Catarina Dutilh Novaes, Aeon

The history of logic should be of interest to anyone with aspirations to thinking that is correct, or at least reasonable. This story illustrates different approaches to intellectual enquiry and human cognition more generally. Reflecting on the history of logic forces us to reflect on what it means to be a reasonable cognitive agent, to think properly. Is it to engage in discussions with others? Is it to think for ourselves? Is it to perform calculations?

Originality Versus The Arts, by Michael Lind, The Smart Set

In the last century, originality has killed one once-flourishing art form after another, by replacing variation within shared artistic conventions to rebellion against convention itself.

I blame the Germans.

Considering The Novel In The Age Of Obama, by Christian Lorentzen, Vulture

What will we mean when someday we refer to Obama Lit? I think we’ll be discussing novels about authenticity, or about “problems of authenticity.” What does that mean? After the Bush years, sheer knowingness and artifice that called attention to itself had come to seem flimsy foundations for the novel. Authenticity succeeded storytelling abundance as the prime value of fiction, which meant that artifice now required plausible deniability. The new problems for the novelist became, therefore, how to be authentic (or how to create an authentic character) and how to achieve “authenticity effects” (or how to make artifice seem as true or truer than the real).

In 'Transit,' Rachel Cusk Continues To Slyly Blur The Lines That Surround Fiction, by Laird Hunt, Los Angeles Times

Like Pavel’s, the house of fiction is made from materials both transparent and opaque. We don’t know, of course, what Faye, a fiction writer, is choosing to leave out or to underplay or invent in her reconstructions. She makes no promises to us. Nor does her creator, Cusk, whose life looks from a distance to have more than a little in common with Faye’s. This is fictional autobiography or autobiographical fiction that refuses to name — and thereby limit — itself.

Of Women, Men And Ballet In The 21st Century, by Alastair Macaulay, New York Times

The meanings that flow from ballet are not only about gender. Yet the use of pointwork places the woman on a different level of being.

And so ballet remains a sexist view of the world — one that privileges the woman, certainly, but on terms that let her shine only by doing what no man can. Should we agree with the choreographer George Balanchine (1904-83) that “ballet is woman”? Or do we qualify this, as the choreographer Pam Tanowitz (born in 1969) has recently done, by saying that ballet is a man’s idea of woman?

The Rise And Fall Of Potato Skins, by Chris Crowley, Grub Street

Perhaps due to their inherent lack of sex appeal, potato skins have all but disappeared from menus. (Unless you’re a regular at your local TGI Friday’s you might be hard-pressed to come up with the last time you ordered some.) Which is a shame, because it’s not just the potato skin that’s disappearing from New York but a certain breed of restaurants and bars.